Shelton-Mason County Journal - Dedicated to the citizens of Mason County, Washington since 1886

Articles written by Alex Fethiere

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 By Alex Fethiere    News    August 25, 2022

A clove by any other name

Enthusiasm about black garlic made me a garlic nerd. This wonderful and versatile condiment is made by fermenting whole-bulb garlic at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for two weeks, during which time it...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    August 11, 2022

BALD-FACED

I've had a banner year of pollinators. The mason bee nest is full and I'm seeing such a variety of wasps, bees and flies that I've stopped worrying about stings when I'm working in the garden. Of...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    July 28, 2022

Fun with Styrofoam

I've been known to accumulate free materials towards an indistinct future use. Some call that "hoarding." At one point it was scraps of Kevlar. At another, 55 gallon drums. More recently, it was...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    July 14, 2022

Where there isn't smoke ...

There's biochar! I've written about biochar in these pages before. Techniques and understandings evolve, and there's always more to share a little way down the road. Years of pit burns and my...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    June 30, 2022

Keeping the culture in agriculture

I've never used Zoom intensively, so when I attended Tuesday's "Keeping the Culture in AgriCulture: First Annual Food Sovereignty Symposium" hosted by Tahoma Peak Solutions, I was trepidatious about...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    June 16, 2022

Bamboozled

Many have been fooled about the uses of bamboo. Its applications are nowhere near as limited as industry would have us believe. Sure, it can produce all kinds of consumer products once requiring wood...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    May 19, 2022

Nature bats last

Readers of this column from February of last year may recall my trials of beer traps combined with Sluggo to thin slug populations. Favorite tipples were chosen, innumerable slugs died, and their...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    May 5, 2022

In praise of fire

I thought "On fire" would be a better title for this week, but it's vague and misleading. Misleading assumes I'm trying to go somewhere. I've been meandering through the gardens doing maintenance as...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    April 21, 2022

The morel of the story

There were a lot of reasons to loathe 2020. Round here, a huge flush of morels wasn't one of them. Kale volunteers were popping up in the spring garlic beds. The garlic had been planted in fall in Cre...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    April 7, 2022

Between two ferns

Over a recent lunch of shrimp curry, kicharee and pasta with nettle pesto, our friend asked whether we had eaten fiddleheads before. I said sure, in the northeast, but not in Washington....

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    March 24, 2022

Drill baby, drill

Clay soil is commonplace in Mason County. I've got various mixtures from almost soil to practically pottery. People put a lot of effort into fluffing up that clay soil for planting purposes....

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    March 17, 2022

Welcome sign of spring

Nettles are a welcome sign of spring in my gardens and woods. Do those who curse their sting know all the wondrous uses of this vegetal gift? I don't profess to know all they offer - as with most...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    March 10, 2022

In the meadow

The "Savannah hypothesis" holds that human evolution started in the woods but moved to meadows and grasslands. It's been used to explain everything from our stress levels to humans' love affair with...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    March 3, 2022

'Tis seed season

Last year I wrote about my springtime seed choices with a little trepidation. I was concerned one of the smaller catalogs might receive enough exposure to sell out faster. This year I'm happy to put...

 

Hotting up

The title of this column doesn't refer to spring. That's still a month off, and this week's night freezes remind us that winter didn't drop its whole payload in December. I'm talking about compost bec...

 

On-ramps

The real estate saw that a property's value is in three things: "location, location, location" applies even more to woodland perennials. Perennials won't perennialize if they aren't in the right...

 

Carver: A man ahead of these times

This week, as I raked two hogsheads of dead leaves into pens for composting and producing leaf mold, it was nice to discover that a mainstream agronomist recommended this wintertime activity over a...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    February 3, 2022

Take a forest bath

Science has a way of validating the obvious. Consider how often psychologists are quoted in the news to prove something everyone knows. In the case of "shinrin-yoku," translated as "forest bathing,"...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    January 27, 2022

Gnatty dread

No matter the season, something always landed in my wine. In summer it was fruit flies and in winter it was fungus gnats. That took a little while to figure out. Plants overwintering in the breakfast...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    January 20, 2022

Compost extract: Liberation versus libertinage

Last year, I wrote in these pages about making compost tea. This water extraction of compost, combined with foods to fuel the procreation of its beneficial organisms, is but one way to make the most...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    January 13, 2022

What is the soil food web?

This week, I started writing a column on massaging a water extract out of compost. Halfway through, I realized you might wonder why I'd bother with all that. It's been an odyssey for me to realize...

 
 By Alex Fethiere    News    January 6, 2022

Dammed if you do

It's a good time of year for documentaries, if your electricity and internet can handle pounding rain and deep-freeze snowfalls. Stuck on unplowed Harstine Island with plenty of hearty soups and...

 

Considering gypsum

Reusing waste materials is easier with a basic understanding of their composition. Readers of this column will recall my experiments in upcycling oyster shells into decorative, traction-enhancing calc...

 

In proportion

If you'd told me years ago that homemade compost can be ready to use in 21-24 days no matter the weather, I might have gone the extra mile to formulate it properly. Had I known it continues to be...

 

To everything turn, turn, turn

Composting is one of the mysteries that my soil science course is revealing. I've been making good enough compost for years without a bum batch. Still, my objective has been to eliminate kitchen...

 

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